BURBANK, Calif.—In its fifth year of charitable holiday season activities, the AYF Juniors Burbank Juniors “Gaidzag” Chapter members, families and supporters, with the participation of the Beshir Mardirossian Burbank Youth Center, donated more than one hundred gifts to children in the villages of Tatev, Tandzatap and Svaranc. Each gift was personally wrapped by an AYF Junior and was accompanied by a hand-written Christmas card.
“Gifting Christmas presents to their peers in remote villages of Armenia goes beyond a kind and simple gesture,” said Ani Garibyan, AYF Juniors Burbank Chapter Co-Director. “This creates a small, but significant bond between kids in the Diaspora and in Armenia. By providing them with the avenues to connect with the homeland, we hope that they will continue to give back to Armenia throughout their lives.”
This tradition, which is now in its fifth year, began in 2012 when chapter members received an educational presentation about the 1988 earthquake that devastated Armenia. Upon learning that many families still lived in the subpar housing that was initially set up as temporary shelter for those who lost their homes, the chapter decided to collect Christmas gifts for the children of Spitak.
This year, the chapter partnered with President and Founder of the Tatev Foundation and Tatev Youth Center, Anna Arshakyan, who distributed the gifts. “I feel very proud to have been raised in Tatev,” said Arshakyan. “Though life here can be difficult, as we live without many of the comforts that one finds in a big city, I think that being raised here makes a young person more independent, ambitious and strong. The incredible nature that surrounds us and the presence of the monastery helps people from here to have a sense of purpose and appreciation for life from various standpoints. While I hope for more opportunities for young people here, I also hope that they can understand that in many ways, we are already incredibly fortunate to have been raised in such a special environment. We are so thankful for the kind gesture displayed by the Armenian youth in Burbank by collecting, wrapping and sending these gifts to their counterparts in Tatev, and I hope that this bond will continue to grow.”
Additionally, the chapter organized a toy drive with the Burbank Fire Department. “While it is imperative for our members to understand the importance of giving back to their homeland, it is also vital to contribute to their local communities as well,” said Nazeli Khodabakhsh, Co-Director of the AYF Juniors Burbank Chapter. Upon delivering the toys, chapter members received a tour of the fire station, and interacted with the firefighters.
The AYF Juniors strives to nourish its members with experiences, information and resources to become ambitious and successful in their pursuit of civic, academic and career excellence, so they are best equipped to serve our communities, nation and cause. We serve our mission through active participation in our communities and during weekly gatherings held at all ten of our chapters in the Western United States.